Confronting Cognitive Dissonance - The Eyeopener

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Are you irate, irritable and irrational when presented with evidence that goes against your preconceived notions of how the world operates? Looking for a solution to your stress? Join us this week on The Eyeopener as we examine the theory of cognitive dissonance and how it stops people from confronting the uncomfortable truths about the way the world really works.

Saving my sanity

Thank you James for helping me understand why so many people around me are in total denial and think that I am the one that is crazy! Maybe someday there will be critical mass of intelligent thinkers that will not stand for the folly that is going on today.

Cognitive dissonance

In 2011 I wrote a blog post entitled "See no truth, hear no truth, speak no truth"

There is a lot more to this than just cognitive dissonance and studying the research can provide clues as to how we can be much more effective.

I did have a website called but that has now been abandoned and I am currently planning a new website primarily emphasising media silence with a supportive twitter account.

'There is a lot more to this'

Very interesting blog post. Good luck with the new website.

I think the term 'cognitive dissonance' can cover a lot--any situation in which people feel unable or unwilling to admit outwardly, and consciously, something that they know, or at least sense, inwardly. But the explanations for why people arrive at such a state can vary.

It seems to me that much of the discussion of the psychological resistance to 9/11 truth has concerned the need of Americans to believe that the their government is exceptionally virtuous. To give one example, David Ray Griffin's talks on 'nationalist faith.' As much as I love his presentation on this subject, and as relevant as I consider the points he raises to be, I also think that there's more involved in this psychological resistance that should also receive attention.

After all, that shimmering image of a good and just U.S. government had already dimmed considerably from what it had been, notably in the course of the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Then and afterwards, there was a growing awareness of the brutal methods employed by the US, both overtly and covertly, in a number of countries. An awareness also of the government's willingness to sacrifice their own troops in the name of lies; to expose them to toxic substances like Agent Orange, then deny them redress. There was also a growing willingness to acknowledge historic wrongs done to groups like Native Americans and black Americans. But with this growing recognition of the US government's actual record, there developed other habits of mind that served to compensate for the loss of the more naïve outlook of earlier generations. Some would rationalize that whatever the truth of US interventionism, these methods were still a 'necessary evil' in the fight against the supposed communist enemy. Others would point to the ability to expose and acknowledge government wrongdoing as a testament to the freedom that still existed in the US; something that supposedly 'couldn't happen in other countries.'

And there was something else--something which, In particular, I think has not received due attention in these discussions of psychological resistance to 9/11 truth. And that is, the mythology that came out of this period ('60s and '70s) concerning not the US government, but rather the role of the news media. It was the media's more critical reporting from the latter stages of the Vietnam War, rather than its prior role in facilitating the war's escalation, which was emphasized. The printing of the Pentagon Papers, after they'd been leaked by Daniel Ellsberg; and the press' role in bringing to light the criminal acts of the Nixon White House during the Watergate scandal--all of this contributed to a mentality of, 'Well, if the US government isn't so virtuous as we thought it was, at least we still have a news media that exposes this wrongdoing. If there's anything big that the public needs to be concerned about, we can rely on the media to tell us.' (Heck, they were even beginning to report on their own wrongdoing, e.g., in 1977, Carl Bernstein wrote about 'Operation Mockingbird' in Rolling Stone magazine.) And it's simply in the nature of myths that this mentality continues to exert its influence, even as evidence to the contrary has only accumulated in the decades since, including well before 9/11.

But whether they concern one's government or the establishment news media, what can make these myths so hard to dislodge from people's minds is that they are intimately bound up with their beliefs about themselves, as solitary individuals. To seriously consider the information presented by the 9/11 truth movement means that these beliefs about themselves will have to undergo a disconcerting revision: A recognition that they are much more susceptible to being duped than they had imagined; that their ability to appraise public figures and intellectuals is also much more deficient than they have thought, as these have likewise shown themselves susceptible to being duped--or perhaps, not so truthful and principled as they had imagined; that the function and practices of the major news media are nothing like they had been taught in social studies or civics classes; that the challenge of discerning which information is reliable, AND of persuading others to pay attention to that information--both of which are necessary if there is to be any chance of achieving democratic accountability of governments--is much more difficult than they have imagined.

One of the most meaningful lines in a film that I've seen in recent years is from 'The International,' released in 2009. Naomi Watts plays an Assistant DA in New York City, whose having a hard time getting her boss to act on the evidence she's gathered relating to crimes being committed by an international banking syndicate. She knows the DA can't dispute the truth of her findings, and she angrily says to him, 'The truth means responsibility!' The DA then replies, with equal vehemence, 'Which is why no one wants to hear it!!'

And that also brings to mind this passage by E. Martin Schotz, author of 'History Will Not Absolve Us,' in reference to the JFK assassination:

' of the primary means of immobilizing the American people politically today is to hold them in a state of confusion in which anything can be believed but nothing can be known, nothing of significance that is. And the American people are more than willing to be held in this state because to know the truth — as opposed to only believe the truth — is to face an awful terror and to be no longer able to evade responsibility. It is precisely in moving from belief to knowledge that the citizen moves from irresponsibility to responsibility, from helplessness and hopelessness to action, with the ultimate aim of being empowered and confident in one's rational powers.'

Why Do Good People Become Silent—or Worse—about 9/11?

Part 5: Denial and Cognitive Dissonance

Written by Frances T. Shure

"When we are faced with information that is too uncomfortable to accept, we reject this information outright or we minimize its importance. This is the psychological defense mechanism known as denial."

"Standing alone with a radically different opinion in a group of one’s like-minded peers—especially when challenging a sacred myth—can often take far greater courage than confronting those perceived as a shared enemy. Our fears of rejection, alienation, and ultimately banishment from those we love and value are probably among the greatest human fears we have. As we will see in the Asch conformity experiments described next, these types of fears might have caused the behavior of the subjects, who yielded their own correct perceptions to the wrong answers of their peers."

Why We Don’t Get—and Don’t Want to Hear—the Truth

As we debate what we will and will not consider possible, it’s instructive to revisit the words of a White House occupant who discovered evil in high places, but realized why very few will listen. Here are former national security official Gary Sick’s conclusions about the media and society.

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